May 23rd, 2017


On the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident, Ontario’s New Democrats join with Ontario’s South Asian community, and all Canadians, to remember this dark chapter in Canada’s history.

When the Komagata Maru landed in Vancouver 103 years ago, 352 passengers – largely Sikh – fleeing British colonial rule in India were refused entry to Canada, and refused even basic necessities such as food and water. The decision to refuse to help these passengers seeking refuge and a better life was the result of exclusionary laws designed to keep immigrants of Asian origin and descent out of Canada.

New Democrats across the country joined with the South Asian community as far back as 2007 in calling for a formal apology from the Canadian government. Ontario’s New Democrats have also worked closely with Ontario’s Sikh community on issues including the creation Sikh Heritage Month in Ontario, formal recognition of the November 1984 Sikh massacre, and flying the Nishaan Sahib outside the provincial legislature – a historic first.

Across the country, New Democrats and the Sikh community are united by shared values of selfless service, community wellbeing and optimism. Although the discriminatory laws that led to the incident are gone, racist sentiments and anti-immigrant discrimination are still present in Canada today. All Canadians should use the memory of the Komagata Maru to remind us to stand up to oppression and injustice whenever we see it.

Racism, faith-based discrimination, and prejudice have no place here.